I don’t expect you to know who Armando Javier Acosta is and I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert on his life.
In fact, I don’t expect many of you to know that Acosta was the drummer for a band called Saint Vitus.
I would like you to know that he passed away today, and some recognition is needed for his contribution to Saint Vitus-a doom metal band with roots in the late 70’s that borrowed not only their name from a Black Sabbath song, but also their ability to cause men to bob their heads in time to a layer of repetitive sludge.
You see, following the blueprint of Sabbath in an environment of hardcore So-Cal punk was in itself pretty punk rock back in the day.
Combine that with the fact that Black Flag regularly named this oddball bunch of longhairs to open for them is in itself pretty amazing.
“Mondo” was not particularly a great drummer, but he was great at what he did with Saint Vitus: turn their riffs into a slow motion anvil, rarely raising the heartbeat of the audience, choosing instead to just hammer away at the rib cage with the intent of stopping the vital organ altogether.
Saint Vitus were the precursor of bands like Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age, “Born Too Late” as one of their album titles explained, while never getting the recognition they deserved until after the band broke up.
In a weird case of syncronicity, my cousin sent me a copy of the recently re-issued Hallow’s Victim just days before Acosta passed away.
He was 58 years old, and while that is way too young to pass away, it surprised me that he was approaching 60. It’s hard to believe that he was approaching 30 when Saint Vitus was beginning to take off with the other early SST labelmates.
In catching up with the band’s whereabouts, it seems that Mondo left Saint Vitus after a recent reunion with the Wino line-up, with another member hinting of some personal issues between him and the other band members, which resulted in a new drummer being added to the fold for a recent set of appreciative shows.
Here’s a clip from happier times with Armando behind the kit. Check out how everyone raided the Black Flag merch table when they ran out of clean clothes.